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'We didn’t think it would happen to us': Mapping of CwC Activities along the Central Mediterranean Route

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This report was compiled at the request of the office of UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean Situation to inform the development of a comprehensive strategy on Communicating with Communities (CwC) for the entire Central Mediterranean Route that would engage with the persons taking part in irregular migration as well as the diaspora in Europe. The main communities for the area covered by the office of the Special Envoy include persons from Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia.

This report was compiled with an aim to:

  • Map existing CwC activities and mechanisms across MENA and the Horn of Africa as they are interlinked;

  • Assess existing CwC tools and their applicability for additional target audiences, catchment areas and messaging;

  • Identify information gaps (both regarding messages disseminated and audiences reached) and suggest how to fill them with new tools and innovative forms of communication to rapidly expand dissemination to communities in countries of first asylum, transit and destination countries and within diaspora communities;

  • Explore innovative ways of using digital tools and social media to amplify the outreach directly with refugees and other persons of concern including main diaspora groups, opinion leaders, influencers, and local Goodwill Ambassadors.

By definition, each communication strategy is determined by five elements: the sender, the message, the communication tools, the recipients and the effect.

This study used a mix of methods to capture all these elements:

1 Communication Tools, Message: A comprehensive desk review was carried out to map existing CwC materials and platforms in use across the pertinent regions.

2 Communicator, Message: An online survey established the range of CwC activities performed by UNHCR offices in Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Jordan (MENA Bureau), Italy, Sweden (Telling the Real Story), Sudan and Tunisia. The offices of Libya, Morocco, Niger, Rwanda and Somalia did not respond to the online questionnaire, so the researchers had to rely on the desk review alone and may therefore not have captured the full range of UNHCR CwC activities in those countries.

3 Recipient, Effect: A series of qualitative interviews with newly arrived asylum-seekers and migrants in Malta shed light on the levels of information and the information sources that reached the recipients.

Our thanks go to the offices who took part in the survey as well as the team of UNHCR Malta who went out of their way to organise the research team’s access to reception and detention facilities and provided transport, interpretation and briefings at short notice. Without their support the field research would not have been possible.

The report consists of two parts. The first part maps and analyses UNHCR CwC activities in the region and is based on the desk review and survey. The second part is a kind of reality check. Based on the interviews conducted with new arrivals in Malta, it explores which of the CwC activities have reached this random selection of respondents from the intended target audience.